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"This affects every single person.."

Updated: Jul 20


Cinema, Tv, Movies, Documentaries, Limited productions and all that jazz. It affects everyone. Every single person on this globe.


Something that also affects us all is climate change.


Now considering that both of these powers have great influence on us and our lives, it seems no surprise that the begin to intertwine themselves at some stage. And this is true - film and tv production being one of the most carbon costly industries out there (check out my write up here).


We all know sustainable behaviours are the best behaviours and that we should all be integrating more sustainable habits into our lives - check out my tip 5 tips video here.


But surely, as viewers of all these terrific tv shows and fantastical films and dreamy documentaries..how can we help? We are consuming this media once it is already been made, right? We are watching all this media once the damage has been done, right?


Now, there have been some very sucessful ethically sound independent flicks, award wining docu-series and mega time block busters made over recent seasons (find out more here!) which is SO fabulous and just SO exciting. But this seems to be more of an 'extra' or 'cherry-on-top-of-the-ice-cream-film-sundae' sort of scenario.





SO, how can we truly help sustainable cinema? How can we help environmentally friendly tv/film production become not just an option but a mandatory? And besides what is sustainable production?


I spoke with extra-ordinarily incredible force that is Jo Coombes the head and creator of ADGREEN. ADGREEN 'exists to support the advertising industry’s transition to environmentally sustainable production methods; working in collaboration with trade bodies and other industry organisations to accelerate the adoption of best practice.'


What is sustainable cinema and tv? What makes a sustainable production?

A sustainable production may mean different things to different people, but to me, it is one where everyone involved: the production team, the cast and crew, will have reduced the emissions in it's production as much as possible. Thanks to BAFTA albert's tools, this would hopefully mean a carbon footprint has been created for the show, giving the team visibility on where their biggest impacts will likely be (often travel and accommodation, powering studios, post houses and production offices), and then done their best to reduce or eliminate them. This will be done by making changes to the way the production will be made, as well as taking advantage of bigger, longer term infrastructure projects such as switching to renewable energy. Any remaining unavoidable emissions would be offset, making the production's footprint essentially net zero. 


There is also a job to be done in front of the camera: the editorial and creative teams will be able to influence the project in two ways. First up, the content will determine the footprint - is it a script with lots of foreign locations? Is it set in the UK in summer but due to shoot in winter meaning you need to go abroad? Do the locations dictate a lot of power use and there won't be access to renewables? These can all be addressed before you even get into production. Secondly, what messages are you giving the viewers? This can be done subtly: a compost caddy in a kitchen - or more overtly through narrative storylines. (which Aisling Bea's Show 'This Way up' does oh so well)


Why is it a problem? 

Every industry needs to be thinking about how to reduce their negative impact on the planet, and the TV and film industries are no different. 


Why is it important we [ALL] do something?

Because quite simply this affects every single person.  


Okay, so it's an issue. But im a viewer - how can I help? I'm not involved with the industry

(this is quite a tough q!)

Like any part of life nowadays, it's about being informed. It will be difficult, as a filmgoer, to really know which films will have had the biggest carbon impact, but I suppose you could consider not giving your money to those who are creating a large amount of emissions in the production. I think a better and more productive option though is to use your love of film to seek out movies that will broaden your environmental education and encourage others to watch them too. There are two sides to every story, and the negative impact of production can often be offset (figuratively speaking) by the positive impact of the content. 

(clearly, the airmiles and power required to create a production like BLUE PLANET II would have been astronomical, but it was heralded as one of the most impactful pieces of modern day tv). 





I actually work in the industry (e.g. actor/camera man/continuity/lighting dept…) - how can I help?

What you can do depends on what department or side of the camera you're on - there are plenty of ideas on the albert and AdGreen websites. However everyone can do the basics - bring your own water bottle, your own cutlery (and in the age of Covid, your own plate, reusable/washable mask etc). Take public transport to set where possible, find out what recycling and composting facilities are on set and make sure you adhere to the separation. If you're in drama or film and dealing with hefty paper scripts, check out the Scriptation app. If you're an actor, it's definitely worth looking at albert's Green Rider campaign too, and considering what impact you can have there. 


I am only just starting out in the industry and don't want to burn bridges but want to help. Any suggestions on how I can talk to the people in charge about making the set more sustainable?

I would hope in 2020 that everyone would be receptive to someone being interested in sustainable production and wanting to make a difference. However, if you are worried this might not be the case, I'd suggest getting some ideas ready so that when you discuss it with your head of department or production team, so you've got some practical solutions to bring to the table



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Drop Jess and Ellie at United Agents a line if you are interested in speaking more (they are very friendly!)

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Illustrations by the marvellous Mary